Saline Area Schools will soon offer hands-on lessons in financial literacy through a pupil-run credit union inside Heritage School starting in January 2019.
The program is offered by Jackson-based CP Federal Credit Union, which also has plans to establish a credit union branch in early 2019 in Saline at 559 E. Michigan Ave. in the Saline Shopping Center next to Busch’s Fresh Food Market.
Sarah Ermatinger, Senior Vice President of Marketing/Chief Culture Officer for CP Federal, says the credit union has been teaching financial literacy for 26 years, starting in 1992 with Parma Elementary in Jackson. Heritage School will be the 29th school-based branch and the first in Washtenaw County.
Saline Area Schools Supt. Scot Graden says that, when the school district surveys alumni to ask what they wish they’d learned more about in school, the topic of financial literacy tends to come up. He adds that the school district's learner profile has a compass point for being "digitally and financially literate," and the age group at Heritage is “ripe for the beginnings of financial literacy education.”
He says students are already talking about jobs, goods, and services in Kindergarten through third grade and sixth-graders take a trip to Detroit annually to learn about how the economy works. However, in fourth and fifth grades, there is “a bit of a gap” when it comes to teaching financial literacy, so the program, which is geared toward students in grades 5-12, was “a pretty good fit” for Heritage School.
Student-run credit unions are branches inside the school operated by the students and serving students, faculty, and staff. Ermatinger says she expects volunteer shifts to be quite short, maybe half an hour. Student “employees” handle basic transactions, deposits and more to real savings accounts. Ermatinger says the credit union will set up computers in the school that connect directly to the credit union’s servers.
CP Federal also provides classroom programs and activities focused on financial literacy, and pupils will have a chance to come to the credit union during class time to make deposits.
Through the program, pupils learn life skills such as how to dress for and present themselves at an interview. They also learn about confidentiality and how to handle sensitive information. They must undergo an interview and present letters of recommendation to be considered for various volunteer jobs at the student branch of the credit union.
“The fifth grade students will be running the credit union with various positions such as Classroom Representatives, Membership Representatives, Accountants, Tech Representatives, and Tellers,” says Heritage School advisor Dana Rosselot. “This credit union will help our students gain a better understanding of how to be financially literate citizens, and be able to see the benefit of saving throughout their lives."
More information about CP Federal's student branches and financial literacy education programs is available through the credit union's website.